Julius Eastman: That Which Is Fundamental

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Archived Event

No Longer Showing.

A large-scale and interdisciplinary project that explores the life, work, and resurgent influence of Julius Eastman, a gay, African-American composer and performer who was active internationally in the 1970s and ‘80s but who died homeless at the age of 49, leaving an incomplete but compelling collection of scores and recordings. 

This project brings more than four years of research by curators Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Dustin Hurt to The Kitchen, an early supporter of Eastman's work, with contributions from Katy Dammers, Tim Griffin, Matthew Lyons, and Christopher McIntyre. 

“Julius Eastman: That Which Is Fundamental” includes a performance series and a two-part exhibition including both archival material and contemporary works. Please see below for the entire program and individual event pages: 


A Recollection. Predicated.
January 19–February 10
A Recollection. maps Eastman's archival matter as a way of inviting viewers to discover new pieces and forge relationships between ephemera held by different informal archivists and approaches a historical exploration and remembrance of Julius Eastman as a master of artifice. Predicated., a group exhibition in conversation with the work of Eastman, explores notions of absence, trace presence, duration, and the politics of exhaustion, featuring works by Ash Arder, Beau Rhee, Carolyn Lazard, Chloë Bass, Courtney Bryan, James Maurelle, Jonathan Gardenhire, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Raúl Romero, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Sondra Perry, Texas Isaiah, Wayson Jones, and Yulan Grant. Curated by Tiona McClodden and organized with Katy Dammers and Matthew Lyons. 


Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and LaMont Hamilton: Evil Nigger
January 19, 8pm; January 20, 12am, 11:30am, 3pm, 6:30pm. $5.
Co-presented with ISSUE Project Room as part of Toussaint-Baptiste’s ISSUE residency in collaboration with interdisciplinary artist LaMont Hamilton.

Julius Eastman: Femenine + Joy Boy with the S.E.M. Ensemble
January 25, 8pm. $25/$20
A concert of music by Julius Eastman performed by the S.E.M. Ensemble with a performance by poet Tracie Morris and electronic musician Hprizm.

Julius Eastman: Thruway plus Gerry Eastman
January 27, 8pm. $25/$20
This concert features one of Eastman's earliest works—Thruway—in its New York City debut performed by the Arcana New Music Ensemble. The program also includes Eastman's piece Buddha and a performance by Gerry Eastman

Julius Eastman: Crazy Evil Gay  
January 28, 8pm. $25
This concert held at The Knockdown Center feature three works by Julius Eastman from the late 1970s, each of which is scored for multiple instruments of the same kind.

Julius Eastman and Dance: Molissa Fenley, Andy de Groat and more
January 30, 8pm. $25/$20
This evening will shed new light on Eastman’s deep and abiding work in dance with an screening of never-before-seen video and other archival material detailing Eastmans’s own work as a choreographer and his collaborations with artists including Andy de Groat. Molissa Fenley presents a reconstruction of her work Geologic Moments, created in collaboration with Eastman in 1986.

Julius Eastman: Macle, Trumpet, Joan d'Arc
February 3, 8pm. $25/$20
For the final concert, vocal ensemble Ekmeles performs Macle, TILT Brass presents the modern premiere of Eastman's recovered work Trumpet, and American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) performs Julius Eastman's powerful work for 10 cellos The Holy Presence of Joan D'Arc. This work is accompanied by its introspective companion vocal piece Prelude to The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc performed by soloist Julian Terrell Otis.

“Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental” is presented in conjunction with the Eastman Estate and Bowerbird

Limited Edition Adam Pendleton Print in Conjunction with
“Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental”

On the occasion of the largest overview of composer Julius Eastman’s work to date—titled “Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental” and taking place at The Kitchen, January 19–February 10, 2018—artist Adam Pendleton created this special limited-edition print. Proceeds from the sale of this limited edition directly support this landmark project celebrating the life, work, and resurgent influence of Julius Eastman (1940–1990), a gay African-American composer and performer who was active internationally in the 1970s and ’80s (when he frequently performed at The Kitchen) but who died homeless at the age of 49, leaving behind an incomplete but compelling collection of scores and recordings that are receiving newfound acclaim.

Preparing to make the work from Eastman archival materials (including a sampling of Eastman’s handwritten notes), Pendleton chose to respond to the jarring titles of the composer’s most iconic pieces—such as Gay Guerrilla, Femenine, Nigger Faggot, Evil Nigger, Crazy Nigger—in which the composer layers confrontational language and implicit commentary atop the otherwise predominantly formal subversion of minimalist music. In this regard, Eastman’s work would assert identity politics well before the mainstream art world to take issues of marginalization—or any spheres beyond heterosexual whiteness—seriously at all in practice. 

On his choice of the N-word in his titles, Eastman said, “Now, the reason I use that particular word is because, for me, it has what I call a ‘basicness’ about it. That is to say, I feel that in any case, the first niggers were of course field niggers, and upon that is really the basis of what I call the American economic system. Without field niggers, you wouldn’t really have such a great and grand economy that we have. So that is what I call the first and great nigger, field niggers. And what I mean by niggers is that thing which is fundamental, that person or thing that attains a ‘basicness,’ a ‘fundamentalness,’ and it eschews that thing that is superficial or, what can we say, elegant. So a nigger for me is that kind of thing which is attains himself or herself to the ground of anything.”

Adam Pendleton himself added, “Julius Eastman created a space for new kinds of language and bodies in relationship to minimalism, and his presence, as a composer, disrupts a historical cannon that might otherwise be too easily articulated. I’d like to think, that by virtue of being a gay guerrilla I can also rightfully claim to be a crazy nigger.”

Pendleton Web

Adam Pendleton
Crazy Nigger (for Julius Eastman), 2018 Silkscreen ink on paper
31 x 24 inches / 86.4 x 60.9 cm
Edition of 20 + 5 APs
Signed and numbered by the artist
$1000 plus sales tax



Prints will be sold in the order inquiries are received.Once purchased, works can be picked up at The Kitchen during normal business hours after an appointment is made. If the work is to be shipped, you will be charged an additional fee for shipping and handling.

For more information, please contact editions@thekitchen.org.

“Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental” is made possible with the generous support of Robert D. Bielecki Foundation, Paula Cooper, Rebecca & Martin Eisenberg, and Agnes Gund; endowment support from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust; annual grants from The Amphion Foundation, Inc., The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Original support for “That Which is Fundamental” was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia.

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Photo of Julius Eastman by Donald W Burkhardt.

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